Fridays, and “Things That Are Not Hallucinations”

One thing about rejoining the regular slaveforce — err, I mean, workforce — is that I have come back to appreciating Fridays. TGIF. Happy Friday. All that jazz. No longer just another day that signals the steady march to the due date of another bill I can’t pay, Friday has become again the end of the trading-your-life-hours-for-the-means-of-living in hopes of doing something over the next two days that might count as actually living. In my current situation, I’m coming around to accepting that I should prooooobably commit a good chunk of the weekend to sleeping. Because, well, I need more of that, and not-sleeping is Ingredient #1 in my personal recipe for Losing My Fucking Mind, served cold. And I’m realizing that, as jazzed as I am about having a job again and doing the grown-up human things and playing the being-a-part-of-society game again, I’m putting in pretty long hours and, oh yeah, I’m actually pretty screwed in the head still.

The only way this is going to work is if I strong-arm taking care of Number One. And as any one of the multitude of mental health professionals I’ve seen in the past few years can attest to, this isn’t really my strong suit. This is what happened to the career thing in the first place. I mean, I was doing really effing well back then. Back before “bipolar” and “mania” and “psychosis” and “dissociation” and “therapy” and “mood stabilizers” and “antipsychotics” were a regular part of my vocabulary, I was the muthafuckin’ bomb. Dude, I oversaving for retirement. Banks bowed to my credit score. The last job I had back then, I was signed at the interview at the salary I wanted. I was on fire.

But not far as the Care and Keeping of the Otherwiser was concerned. And, upon reflection, I was probably hypomanic for several years preceding the Big Bad Episode. So there’s that.

Back to today. Friday. So today I was like, “Hmm…I could do more work and ‘get ahead’ for next week, or be all like ‘peace out muthafuckas’ and get home and…well, let’s be real, lie down and rest.”

And here we are.

Things That Are Not Hallucinations

Going to bed early,

The Otherwiser

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FREEFALL…for real this time.

Yeah, so yesterday I titled my great, reemergence, here’s-what-I’ve-been-up-to-post completely wrong. The poem at the end of that one was “So Breathe.” “FREEFALL” is actually at the bottom of this one. Just goes to show that I really don’t know what I’m doing, and if you put enough monkeys in an Otherwiser’s brain I guess blog posts and poems eventually come out, but satisfaction not guaranteed. That said…

Today, I went to the job. I did the things. Or, at least most of the things. I even only made a limited number of strange noises and spent a minimal amount of time staring off into space before I was asked if I was “okay.” Confession: I said yes. But extra-special plus! There were only two occasions today upon which I desired to throw a chair out the door. I even have one picked out for when the temptation gets too strong and does eventually herald my inevitable termination. It’s kind of a broken swivel chair that probably needs to be tossed anyway. But today was NOT that day. I earned money. I think.

These are the metrics of my success. And I’m surprisingly okay with that right now. Is that therapy-voice talking? Unknown. Maybe. Or it’s the klonopin. Probably klonopin.

What I’m less okay with is the fact that ramping up on my new anti-brainfuck cocktail is making me piss myself at night. 0 out of 5 stars. I’ve had more fun in bed. Here’s to hoping that I’m not making a urinary-retention-for-mental-stability swap. I want to sit down with my brain and it’s fuckery and be all like:

seriously, man? nocturnal enuresis?

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED???

Because seriously. How much more shit am I going to have to put up with? Actual shit? Oh, oh dear God I take it back. Knock on wood. Please leave me my bowels.

Aaaaanyhow, all that much TMI and verbal vomit later, here’s a much more eloquent poem I wrote about how it feels being me these days. I gotta say, I’m not sure what’s going on with my life, but something’s happening and I’m just going to roll with it.

And write.

Freefall

I am learning to fall in transit
Harsh wind rushing past my face
Limbs askew
My hands flailing about, unable to either grasp purchase or each other
So every now and then I pray like a skydiver
Spread-eagled
It’s nothing like the bedtime grace of bended knee —
But every bit as comforting as screaming upon the floor.

It’s been so, so long since I’ve seen the high place from where I started
A mystery still if I rolled off in my sleep, or was pushed. Or perhaps I jumped.
There have been too many collisions against the sharp edges that feel like rock bottom and I am bruised and bleeding.

Still I live a wingless life in freefall
Bracing for the ground
Hoping for a soft, or at least a sudden, landing
Or is it too late to ask for the miracle of a parachute?

Showering daily,
The Otherwiser

Guess who’s back??? Also, “So Breathe:” a bonus poem because I’m in a good mood.

Oh, boy. Ooooh, boy. What a summer.

Soooo…somewhere between manically driving to another state, and then working a temporary job, and then getting what was left in my bank account frozen for financial shit that I won’t get into here, and running out of meds and not having a doctor, and cresting into an episode, and being brought back by a group of literal hippies using methods that are definitely not sanctioned by the FDA and I wouldn’t confess over the internet but somehow actually worked, then living off the kindness of people who hadn’t seen/heard from me in a while and being in this weird mental/spiritual place in which I was like “ARE YOU KIDDING ME, UNIVERSE? I HAVEN’T DEALT WITH ENOUGH SHIT THIS YEAR?” but also like, “How is it that these people can be so kind to me???” and also getting into a pretty bad car accident, I…

Got a job. An actual, like, career-type, health-insurancey, fell-into-my-lap-and-BWAHAHAHA-was-I-going-to-say-“Well, I’m not really fit to work right now”?-Hells-no-I-wasn’t-girlfriend capital-J-type Job.

People who know what’s been going on in my headspace have responded in one of three general ways:

1. “Are you insane? Why did they even hire you? You can’t work.”

a. I’m all like, “Welp, what else is a poor fucked over fucker who’s been passed over for EVERY FUCKING HELP IMAGINABLE supposed to do? Homelessness 2.0 again? No, thanks. Thanks for seeing things realistically, and also for offering to help instead of talking out of your ass. And that was sarcasm. Since you’re obviously too stupid to identify it.”

2. “Are you sure this is what you want?”

a. See response 1.a.

3. “I hope it works out!”

a. Me, too!

So that’s where I’ve been, Blogworld. I made an appointment to see a doctor on Day 1 my insurance kicked in and got in to see a shrink pronto and Sweet Baby Jesus Thank You for these drugs. I can sleep again! If you’ve ever done the No-Sleep Shuffle for long enough to start doing that hallucinating thing, you know where I’m coming from. *cries from joy*

Funny how having consistent access to what you need kind of begins to help make the crazy become manageable. Funny how pretty much nothing in society seems set up to recognize this. I’m not precisely well, but I wake up every morning and go to work and do the things (or at least I’m pretty sure I’m doing the things) and no one’s complained about me yet. My coworkers are at the point where they just think I’m a little zany and I know they talk about me (as the humans do, so whatever), but I figure if I can keep this up for another month or two…maybe I’ve actually got a thing? Like, a thing thing, a thing that I could do for a little while. Long enough to qualify for protections like FMLA if my brain goes Nut House on my ass again and I need time off, or disability. Who knows? I might even win the lottery, or find true love.

And maybe I’ll actually get a place to live in the next month or so? This entire venture has been made possible by the excessive generosity of one friend in particular. We have this thing where we trade periods of homelessness and sheltering/feeding each other, oddly enough, though right now I’m winning in the longest-shit-stretch department. Hopefully she gets to keep her functional life going long enough for me to make sense of whatever is happening with mine because if I end up needing to support her for several months I better damn well be able to. She’s been a champ.

We should probably get married.

Anyhow, I lost enough marbles to also lose the ability to write, and just this past week as I was sitting on the toilet (no shit) something in my brain turned back on and was like, “Hey! You have recovered the powers of CREATIVITY!” This is why I’m feeling optimistic. I don’t want to say everything’s all peachy because I’m still dealing with the fallout from this car wreak and the whole getting-my-bank-account-frozen-by-asshats and, oh yeah, lest I forget, I’m going to have to deal with fighting my own brain for the rest of my whole sorry life, but for the first time in over two years I might be on the verdant verge of rejoining society. I might even have a permanent address soon. And yeah, that’s huge.

So here’s a poem.

So Breathe

When you can’t tell if the world or yourself is twisting tighter
All you know is looking-glass distortia
And everything is hateable, at least a little bit,
Accept that the only medicine you have now is quiet breath

In and out

When the anxiety speaks louder than the therapy
And the thoughts are running so fast they begin to trip
Wires, that set off explosions
Of adrenaline, that tremble and shake and threaten to break you
Down, down further than you’ve ever been
Just inhale so deep you might pop and then as it raises you up
Hold on tight

In and out

When it’s dark
You know the dark
The dark that veils day and night and comfort and hope
Forget your eyes
And listen to the sound of cool air rushing
Through your nostrils, down your throat, into your lungs
Release it, and then follow it. It knows the way.

In and out

Again and again
A cycle of wind and smooth pauses
It does what it does whether you notice it or not
Again and again, all day, every day
A special persistence
You can hold it, but only for so long

So breathe

Lack of Insight, a rap-poem (because really, I can’t rap) and an Announcement

Lack of Insight

Insight: I know I need it
This whirlwind demands I read it
Judging light provides awareness — fence between the sane and careless
Intuition shakes and tears up
Leaving messes we send prayers up
To a God that gave affairs up to a brain that never squares up

Locked to a bed or driving long
I’m gripped by both; I’m always wrong
A crazy world, in this mad throng, I never feel that I belong

Should I stay or should I go?
The answer’s mine but I don’t know
So I do what the moment tells me, I do atonement in debris

You all know that I do love you
When the chaos seems to shove you
And I lose my self in many things that seem ethereal above you

I’d ask for your trust in leaving
But the truth’s I’m disbelieving
You see, we’ve been weaving back and forth in my self-deceiving
This plan I’ve been conceiving
Not smart but I’ve been perceiving
Time for me to get out n’ leaving
And the thought of it all’s damn relieving

Insight: I know I need it
Insight: They try to plead it
Insight: Not gonna heed it

I’m taking a trip. I’m going to get in my car, and with the last of the money I have I’m going to drive for the next three days. Now, there is a plan (that I’m not going to share with the internet because thank God I still have that much insight) but this is happening.

Some little voice in the back of my head says, “Um…this is like Mania 101.” That voice is getting quieter and quieter. I think it’s the anxiety. I think anxiety is telling me that my plans must be filtered through my illness. But I don’t really they must be. Or at least I hope not. I keep trying to justify them to myself, but that little voice keeps coming back. Is that justification itself a sign? it asks.

Fuck filtering everything through the Brita Filter of “You’re a Sicko!”

I have a plan. This isn’t random. I am actually a little bit nervous about it. I know I’ve been losing a bit of insight into myself — I usually spend a lot of time in my head and can tell what’s going on, and that’s been on the down lately — but I think this trip will be good for me. I’m going to stay with a friend (we’ve been friends since The Dawn of Time) and I’m going to do a lot of Things. Then I hope I have money to drive back. Haha!

Wish me luck, and, if you are so inclined, pray for me,

The Otherwiser

It’s my [life-teetering on the edge of destruction] party and I can cry if I want to.

Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
Job 7:11 [ESV]

A good friend of mine was able to spend time with me today and let me just…talk.

I badly needed this. I’ve been existing in a silent “I’M OKAY!” whirlwind for a while now, and my body and mind are finally doing what they do when the strength of my will, routines, and treatment regimens are overwhelmed by the power of that which ails me. I’m losing my fucking mind.

And there, sitting in the public park surrounded by happy families enjoying the nice weather, it all came out. My stressors, my angst, my meds, my stupid insurance situation that has me back at square one trying to find care (and getting the run around), my isolation, the sense that I am crying out to a God who hears but does not answer, my fear that I am actually, truly hexed, and that my reality is warping and I’m losing the ability to “proofread” it as it happens… And she listened. It was a gift.

The rant wasn’t terribly coherent this afternoon, either. It was a lot weepier and interspersed with heaving sobs, but it was good to get some of this crap verbally organized. My “Get Out of Human Free” plan can wait for now, for at least a while. And sometimes all we can do is go day by day.

When we parted ways I felt a drive to get biblical on my ass and I opened up to the Book of Job. For those of you who don’t know, Old Testament Job is the poor sod that God let Satan fuck with just to prove how holy Job really was. In my childish understanding of it, I think all the people who ended up killed in the Heavily Demonstration of Ultimate Holiness really got the short end of the stick but seeing as I’ve lost a lot in the past two years, including my own sanity, I thought Job and I might have some themes in common. It might be a good place to get some spiritual comfort.

So here was my QUESTION: in the midst of people telling me to “wait upon the Lord” (majority response), “confess my hidden sins” (shitty response), or “give Him my burdens (which I really thought I was already doing, but clearly must be doing wrong), am I allowed to whine and cry like a bitch or do I need to be “OKAY!”?

Nobody likes a Debbie Downer, they say, but when frickin’ Job can spend most of the effing book bemoaning his birth and refusing to shut up about how much pain he’s in then I feel a little bit better about looking at the mess that is my mind and my life and saying,

“Shit sucks!”

Or, as Job says it, in chapter 10 verses 18-22:

Why did you bring me out from the womb?
Would that I had died before any eye had seen me
and were as though I had not been
carried from the womb to the grave

Are not my days few?
Then cease, and leave me alone, that I may find a little cheer
before I go — and I shall not return — to the land of darkness and deep shadow
the land of gloom like thick darkness
like deep shadow without any order
where light is as thick as darkness.

I feel ya man, I feel ya.

The Otherwiser

Disintegration

Disintegration

From top to bottom feel the soul begin
To crumble, pieces falling to the ground
Fear when the body lacks substance within
The rest unravels, everything unbound
Like sand it slips ‘tween fingers brittle-bent
A whole world they once clutched a life ago
But now worn skin and muscle here are spent
What strength to use, this body does not know
Seek fortitude, oh seeker, do not cry!
These tears of yours they hasten bitter end
What use is there to sit and question why?
Gather the pieces; with them you’ll transcend
Yes, sweep them if you must and you’ll rise high
They may be tiny pieces but you’ll fly

I’m a jumble. In this past week I’ve:

  1. Found God (again)
  2. Suspected that finding God and a resurgence in my spirituality is a symptom
  3. Berated myself for that thought because I don’t need to define everything in terms of my mental health and people find God all the time
  4. Doubted my diagnoses
  5. Noticed that EFFING EVERYTHING is related and interconnected, patterns of patterns (but really, and this might be a separate post)
  6. Realized that this could be a symptom (thanks, therapy!)
  7. Denied that this is a symptom, because see #3 and #4
  8. Recognized that I am, in fact, struggling with some of the same symptoms I did before the Big Bad Career-Eating Episode and subsequent hospitalizations (therapy again)
  9. Told myself I have it under control
  10. Wondered if I do have it under control (therapy)
  11. Trusted that God has it under control
  12. Accepted that I need to see a doctor to help get it under control (fuckin’ therapy)
  13. Realized I have no money
  14. Written a lot
  15. Been proud of my writing
  16. Erased my writing
  17. Convinced myself that I was wrongly diagnosed and my mental perspective is simply atypical, but fine
  18. Planned a trip out-of-state for next month
  19. Spent time with friends but
  20. Felt incredibly lonely

Yep.

Buckling the chin-strap of my “what the hell?” helmet,

The Otherwiser

Saboteur, a poem and Thoughts on Thoughts

Saboteur

On guard!
Do watch these thoughts that stray
From faithful paths, the grounded way
So many things to keep in mind
Within a brain barely confined
By daily watch and chemical hem
I must stay in control of them
Resist the thoughts that leave behind
The pills that keep the rest aligned
Feelings that tempt, invisible thoughts
The ones that twist me up in knots
Subconscious nudges t’ward contempt
The ones that lead me to attempt
To set aside the good I’ve learned
And leave me, sick, my stomach churned
Take up the lessons and the pills
Address the facts and all my ills
Forgetful or resentful blur
I am my own best saboteur

Mmm…So, after a particularly interesting week (sleep and major forgetfulness in particular), I nonchalantly reached for my morning pill organizer (like I do as part of my morning routine) and realized that I hadn’t been taking the pills all week.

Oops.

Now, I usually don’t just “Oops! I forgot!” My not-taking-meds in the past has usually been intentional, or out of my control, and usually goes something like:

“I’M NOT SICK!” or “I’M NOT SICK…ANYMORE!” or “I CAN’T PAY FOR THESE!” or “I DON’T WANT TO BE TIED TO THESE TOOLS OF THE AMORAL PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY/GOVERNMENT THAT JUST WANTS TO PROFIT OFF MY SUFFERING [rant rant rant]!”

Now, I’ve been off one of the drugs in the cocktail for a few weeks now due to cost and I think I’m doing okay (?) but I put that question mark there because there are a few things happening that are making me think that I need to ramp up my search for a new doctor. Things like feeling like people are following me (been there before), “recognizing” people it turns out I don’t know (shit), and feeling really, really anxious around cops for no reason (shitty shit).

And the forgetting the meds…despite the fact that I really, really thought I’d been taking them all week. And also…shouldn’t it take longer than a week for me to feel some effect? I don’t know these things. I feel like some miniature saboteur has moved into my head and is trying to make this living life thing as difficult as possible. While I was focusing on my sleeping problems and working on my dismal financial situation, it slipped in and decided to start screwing with my thoughts.

No. No, please. I can’t deal with this right now.

Thankfully I’m with it enough to be able to make a list of this stuff, and I’m hoping it will resolve with 1) mastering sleep and 2) TAKING THE DAMN MEDS. If not…

Well, I’m not going to think about that right now.

Thoughtfully,

The Otherwiser